Cervelo's new P5

It's been a long time coming, but the new P5 has certainly been worth the wait. A look at the new flagship TT bike from Cervelo.

| March 13, 2019 | GEAR

Cervelo\'s new P5

Cervelo's new P5

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

The DNA of Cervelo has always set itself apart from its competition. Cervelo has been the aerodynamic pioneer in the bike world for over 25 years. No other manufacturer got into the game as early, and hardly any other company offers as many pure triathlon models as the Canadian company.

In addition to the entry level P2, they have the evergreen P3, the P5X and, since 2012, the first edition of the P5.

Now we get to welcome the latest iteration of the company’s flagship TT bike, one that will no-doubt be very attractive to many triathletes.

While seven years might seem like a long time between product cycles, as far as Cervelo was concerned, working on the P5 was a tough call. For years, in various aero tests, the P5 continued to emerge as one of the fastest bikes. So why build a new P5 now? Welcome to the world of disc brakes, now seen in the industry as the new gold standard, which requires a whole new set of frames.

A Cervelo engineer explains the new P5

Graham Shrive, Director, Engineering at Cervelo, describes the new P5.

The platform

These days, when it comes to triathlon and time trial bikes, you no longer just talk about a frame and fork, but a kit of adapted components around the whole bike including the aero bar and stem, the fork and the seat post. When it comes to teasing out the ultimate in aerodynamics, nothing beats complete system integration. There’s a particular challenge and advantage on that front when it comes to disc brakes. While disc brakes provide some unwanted aero issues, when it comes to designing the bike it’s possible to save weight in certain areas while also increasing rigidity. In addition, new production processes can be used for carbon layups. The result, in the case of the P5, is a stiffer and lighter model that’s more aerodynamic (by about 17 g of drag) than its predecessor.

In terms of stiffness, Cervelo says the new frame is just under 25 percent stiffer and a whopping 350 grams lighter. There’s also a significant gain in driving stability thanks to the new thru axles used on the new frame. Add in the improved performance thanks to the disc brakes and you get considerably better power transfer and steering performance in the new P5.

The new riser system is simple, but provides lots of adjustability. The new basebar is 38 cm wide and features Cervelo\'s own proprietary grips. The new aerobar pads are also designed by Cervelo.

The new riser system is simple, but provides lots of adjustability. The new basebar is 38 cm wide and features Cervelo's own proprietary grips. The new aerobar pads are also designed by Cervelo.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

There’s also a completely new cockpit. The Cervelo engineers focused on creating a lean set up that uses a similar riser to that of the P5X, but one that’s a bit simpler. You can move the seat post up or down quickly and easily with just a 4 mm Allen key. The 38 cm wide base bar features Cervelo’s own proprietary molded basebar grips, which offer improved aerodynamics and are very comfortable. The extensions are clamped to the riser and are also easily adjusted. They come in three versions: 30- and 50-degree and an S-bend option.

The P5 is a UCI legal bike. So, while it will no-doubt be a popular option for triathletes, it was also developed as a time trial bike for professional teams – for example, this year Team Sunweb has been using the P5. Since triathletes need to be able to store nutrition in addition to a spare tube and C02 cartridge, the P5 comes with two top-tube mounted boxes: the Smartpack 100 and 400. The smaller one at the front is good for wrappers, while the larger one will fit gels and the like. Cervelo has started making those components themselves (as opposed to previous years where they worked with companies like Profile Design and 3T) and Cervelo has also developed its own proprietary downtube water bottle, arm pads and the afore-mentioned basebar grips.

The new P5 features disc brakes with an aero thru-axle.

The new P5 features disc brakes with an aero thru-axle.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

The components

The new P5 is available from €7,499 (US$7,500) with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 gruppo and DT Swiss P1800 wheels. The premium model goes for €11,999 (US$12,500) and offers up Dura-Ace Di2 components and Enve SES 5.6 Disc wheels. The frameset is available for €5,499 (US$5,000).

The bikes all come with the Smartpacks, seat post with rear water bottle carrier, aero water bottle and a Prologo Zero Tri saddle. The premium model also comes with Ceramic Speed’s OSPW pulleys, bottom bracket and UFO chain. (The frameset comes with the Smartpackes, seat post and water bottle.)

Ride impressions

The P5 is designed with speed in mind – exactly what a professional cyclist or avid triathlete is looking for. The grip position on the base handlebar is deliberately low and, more importantly for triathletes looking for a fast ride, the aero position is designed to be rather long-and-low, too. This is a bike that feels really good powering away with your hands on the basebar, but is also very comfortable in the aero position for long periods of time.

If you're looking a bike that provides a real feel for the road and a lively, agile ride where all your energy goes into moving you forward, you've come to the right place. The disc brakes provide excellent performance - the argument on whether you need those on a triathlon bike will soon be over.


It’s an expensive bike, but there are lots of triathletes who are simply looking for the fastest ride out there, one that they see the pros riding. We might eventually see many of the essential features seen on this new version of the P5 become available on other models in the Cervelo line - the P3, or possibly even on the P2.

Whether or not that happens any time soon, Cervelo has created an eye-catching bike in the P5, one which will set new standards. Just as you would expect from a pioneer.